Château CliqueThe Château Clique was a group of wealthy families in Lower Canada in the early 19th century. They were the Lower Canadian equivalent of the Family Compact in Upper Canada.
Like the Family Compact, the Chateau Clique gained most of its influence after the War of 1812. Most of the families in the Clique were British merchants, although some were Anglicized French-Canadians. Some of the most prominent members were brewer John Molson and James McGill, founder of McGill University. Generally, they wanted French-Canadians to assimilate into English culture. This included the abolition of the seigneurial system, replacing French civil law with English law, and replacing the established Roman Catholic Church with the Anglican Church. However, the Constitutional Act of 1791 had guaranteed the protection of French civil law, the French language, and the Catholic Church, and their efforts were ultimately unsuccessful.
The Constitutional Act had established three levels of government: the Legislative Assembly, an elected lower house; the Legislative Council, an elected upper house; and the Executive Council, which acted as a kind of cabinet for the Lieutenant Governor. The Governor was always an appointed British nobleman, and he appointed members of the Clique as his advisors. The Clique was also able to establish itself in the Legislative Council, leaving the Legislative Assembly, made up of French-Canadian representatives, with little or no power.
Louis-Joseph Papineau, as a Reformer in the Assembly, was one of the fiercest opponents of the Chateau Clique. His struggles against the Clique and the Lieutenant Governor, Lord Gosford, led to the Patriotes Rebellion in 1837. After the rebellion, Upper and Lower Canada were united as the Province of Canada, but the Chateau Clique did not disappear like the Family Compact did. While the English-speaking elite no longer had the same amount of power, the British-appointed Governors General still attempted to force the French population to assimilate. Quebec (as Canada East) eventually gained some political independence with the union government of Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine.